On College Football: Pac 12 Is About To Get Real, Possibly Spectacular


Week two offered unexpected excitement. Week three gave us incessant fireworks. Week four should prove more sedate. Focus shifts to the Pac 12 where the nine-game conference season hits full bore. Pack your state-approved bongs, hit the raw food establishments, and top off your botox early. The evening could get wild.

GameDay heads to Tucson for a Top 20 matchup between Arizona and UCLA. The Bruins are fresh off a comeback win at home vs. BYU. The Wildcats are an enigma, after three straight helpings of cupcakes.

UCLA has concerns. Josh Rosen has fallen off since the opener. Against BYU, he completed 48 percent of his passes, averaged 4.6 yards/att and threw three picks. The offense has struggled with efficiency (75th in 3rd down conversions, 113th in red zone TD percentage). The Bruins have had their customary respect for the rules (111th in penalty yards/game).

There’s also an injury crisis on defense. Potential 1st round pick Myles Jack became the third UCLA defensive starter shelved for the season. Jim Mora may have to break out the war paint.

Arizona leads the nation in yards/carry.Anu Solomon has not thrown a pick. What that means, given their opposition thus far, is anyone’s guess. Scooby Wright is back at practice.

The Pac 12 features a second Top 20 pairing with Oregon hosting Utah. The line was off the board for much of the week, as with uncertainty about both starting quarterbacks. (Now: Oregon -11.5) Oregon has been off to an okay start. Their offense has been fine. Their defense has been a soft point. Opponents have scored at least 28 points in each game. Two of their three foes were Eastern Washington and Georgia State.

Utah evaded Michigan at home. They’ve maintained form since. The question is what the Utes do on the road that will trouble Oregon? Their defense is good, but not outstanding. Their offense has underwhelmed. Utah ranks 102nd in passing yards/att. Devontae Booker has been held under four yards/carry twice in three games.

The nightcap shows two teams that began the season in the Top 20, with No. 19 USC traveling to Arizona State. The Trojans took a shot in the mouth from Stanford, disappearing, as per usual, when the game came down to endurance and coaching adjustments. ASU has had two tuneup weeks, after getting shellacked by Texas A&M. Will USC have enough octane in the tank? Will Todd Graham go back to the Britney Spears headset?


Mike London. Virginia shows just enough in losses for you to think something may be percolating there. Then you realize London is in year six. His Cavaliers are 17-40 vs. FBS teams. Easier non-conference scheduling may have pumped London up a bit. Still, 11-29 in the ACC doesn’t look that much better.

Virginia hosts Boise State at home, as a slight underdog. A name-brand win alleviates some pressure. A loss means UVA has to go 5-3 in the ACC to reach a bowl game.

Our picks were 5-0 last week. We are 11-4 ATS on the season. 

Michigan (-5.5) vs. BYU: BYU heads East for an early kickoff. They have to be worn down after a brutal early schedule – at Nebraska, Boise State, at UCLA. Their defense gave out in the 4th quarter last week. BYU struggled protecting Tanner Mangum. Michigan has a good defensive line. Victors valiant, by a touchdown.

Texas Tech (+7.5) vs. TCU: This was on our trap games list. Two TBL writers picked it as their upset of the season. TCU looks off this year. The Horned Frog defense has been riven by departures and injuries. Texas Tech will be hell bent for revenge after giving up 80 last year. Take the home team and the points in a shootout. Guns up. #CoachHandsomeRevengeTour

Ball State (+18.5) at Northwestern: Northwestern ranks 124th in yards/play offense. Their efficiency faltered against Duke (6/20 on 3rd down, 0 TD on 3 trips to the Red Zone). They can’t pass the ball. The Wildcats shouldn’t be 18.5-point favorites against anyone.

UMass (+29) at Notre Dame: This is a sandwich game for the Irish between Georgia Tech and Clemson. The defense may be banged up the week after facing a cut blocking, triple option (collapsed at the end last week). With their offensive injury crisis, the Irish will be trying to shorten the game and end it, not run up the score.

Vanderbilt (+24.5) at Ole Miss: This is an enormous letdown spot for Ole Miss after the Bama win. The Commodores are better than people think. They have a Top 20 pass defense. They played Georgia very tough, it was a 10-point game before the Dawgs pulled away on a pick six. The Commodores cover.